In this episode we will be exploring the topic of trust in God, and how God’s provision is promised within the activities of the kingdom.
Yeshua stated it this way:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25
In the core of the Bible paraphrase, I have stated it this way:
“Unnecessary anxiety over the essentials of life can consume us and cause us to lose our eternal perspective.”
Life is about so much more than the temporary things of this existence in this world. And yet we are constantly distracted with the basics of living that we forget about the true life that only comes from God. For believers, this is an ongoing struggle: to remain focused on God while overcoming the flash and noise of this world.
But a way to overcome this is to change our perspective. If we are able to get our focus off of ourselves and our problems, and focus on the important things like the Kingdom of God, we have more strength to overcome our struggles, which by comparison, are much less significant. Having our perspective changed from temporary to eternal will change how we respond to these hurdles. We will find over time that the anxiety and distress over temporary things will begin to fade as we focus more on the eternal things.
So to begin looking at this passage in Matthew 6, according to Yeshua, life is more than food.
Matthew 6:26 – Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them.
He is reassuring his hearers that if God is able to provide animals their food, he can certainly provide it for those who are serving him in his kingdom.
This is an echo from the Psalms:
Psalm 104:20-21 – You send the darkness, and it becomes night, when all the forest animals prowl about. Then the young lions roar for their prey, stalking the food provided by God.
Those who are serving God in his kingdom may not always know how or what kind of food they will have, but God is able to provide it when the focus is first and always on him.
Continuing in Matthew 6:26, Yeshua states the conclusion of this provision for animals by saying, “And aren’t you far more valuable to God than they are?” The implied answer, of course, is yes you are! You have far more worth than many sparrows or lions because you are created in the image of God; your whole being is modeled on his.
Yeshua also teaches us that the body is more than clothing.
Matthew 6:28-30 – “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
God’s provision of food and clothing for believers is being compared to the natural order within God’s creation. Just as being a participant in God’s creation entitles his creatures to the natural provision of their needs, being a participant in God’s kingdom naturally entitles his children to the basic necessities of living.
Psalm 37:23-25 – The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
The provision of these basic needs belong to those who are seeking first the kingdom, i.e., believers. However, if there is no kingdom-seeking going on, there is no guarantee that this provision will be met. The benefits of the natural order of creation belong to those who trust in the Creator, as the benefits of the natural order of the kingdom belong to those who trust in the King.
Also, the basic needs being discussed here may not be what one would expect or is accustomed to. What we consider basic and what God considers basic may be two different ideals completely. But if we are trusting in him for our spiritual needs, Yeshua is implying that God will meet our physical needs. We may not be rich, but we will be able to get by. We may not always have the type and quantity of food that we want, but we will not actually starve. That gives God a wide latitude of options when it comes to meeting our needs.
Our role is to recognize his provision and to be grateful and content with what he has provided for us. As Paul writes:
Philippians 4:11-13 – Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Messiah, who gives me strength.
To understand more about how God can provide, we can view some examples of how he has done so in the past.
The most apparent and significant example of this principle is expressed in how God provided for the priests who spent all of their time regarding the things of God involved with sacrifice and maintaining the Tabernacle. Because they spent all of their time in this necessary service and ministry, they were not granted any land inheritance, and they could not farm for themselves. God provided for their needs by allowing them to eat (with specific limitations) the choicest offerings of the people that were brought to God.
Leviticus 10:12-15 And Moses said to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, “Take the grain offering that remains from the offerings made by fire to the LORD and eat it without leaven beside the altar, because it is most holy. You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your share and your sons’ share of the offerings made by fire to the LORD; for this is what I have been commanded. And you and your sons and daughters may eat the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution in a ceremonially clean place, because these portions have been assigned to you and your children from the peace offerings of the sons of Israel. They are to bring the thigh of the contribution and the breast of the wave offering, together with the fat portions of the offerings made by fire, to wave as a wave offering before the LORD. It will belong permanently to you and your children, as the LORD has commanded.”
Deuteronomy 18:1-2 The Levitical priests—indeed the whole tribe of Levi—shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They are to eat the offerings made by fire to the LORD; that is their inheritance. Although they have no inheritance among their brothers, the LORD is their inheritance, as He promised them.
So we see that because the priests were wholly occupied with the work of the Tabernacle, God was providing for their needs in the very acts of their service.
The Tabernacle or Mishkan in Hebrew was the symbolic root of God’s kingdom on the earth, which is why it is explained in such detail in the Old Testament. It represented God’s presence on the earth; it is where forgiveness was offered as repentant people brought their offerings. It was the center and heart of the camp of Israel in the wilderness, and everything in that community revolved around the presence of God in that place and his guidance in every aspect of their lives. To be a member of the Levites who were continually working within the courts of the Mishkan was considered a great honor, and they were highly regarded by others in the community.
This was the initial and primary pattern of how God would provide for those who were sacrificing all of their worldly inheritance to participate in this model of the kingdom on earth. And this is an eternal pattern that is established for us right down to our current day and age. As we seek first his kingdom, we need to trust that God will provide for us so we can keep our attention and focus on him and his purpose at all times. And when we truly trust him for our provision, he will not disappoint us.
Another interesting aspect of God’s provision is brought out as we look at the sacrifice of Abraham. In the story, Abraham is preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac in amazing and unswerving obedience to God’s request. As they are assembling everything necessary for the sacrifice to take place, Isaac innocently asks where the lamb is for the sacrifice.
Genesis 22:8, 14 – “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.”
Well, of course, all along Isaac was intended to be the sacrificial offering, and yet just as Abraham is about to fulfill his duty in faithful obedience, something happens.
Genesis 22:12-14 – “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of Yahweh it will be provided.”
While this famous passage is used to teach many wonderful and, yes, challenging aspects of God’s character and purpose which we do not have time to explore in this lesson, it primarily focuses on the idea that God is a provider; in fact, that is one of his names: Yahweh-Yireh (Or Jehovah Jirah, as the song goes).
While this passage confirms God’s ability to provide, let’s take a step back from the imagery of the story into the text itself. I find it interesting to note that the word for provide actually has a root in the word ra’a: to see, perceive, appear, cause to see. It’s as if at a point, God’s provision is made apparent when it wasn’t apparent previously.
Genesis 22:13 Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
As soon as the test was over, Abraham saw the ram caught in the thicket. So then the question becomes, had the ram been there the whole time, or did it just happen to get caught right at the time Abraham needed it? Well, the verse doesn’t actually say, but it does raise some interesting ideas of just how God’s provision comes to pass.
We can see a similar idea of seeing God’s provision another narrative involving Abraham with the story of Hagar. When she was being sent away by Abraham into the wilderness, the passage says she saw a well of water when the need arose:
Genesis 21:14-16, 19 – So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die,” she said, as she burst into tears. … Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.
So the question is, did God miraculously provide a well that wasn’t there previously, or did he just reveal its location, make it apparent, to Hagar when her need was greatest?
Another famous example revolves around the rivalry between the nation of Aram and Israel. Elisha was the prophet of God at the time, and knew that God would deliver the Israelites from the hand of Aram:
2 Kings 6:14-17 – So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city [of Dothan]. When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.
By contrast, just like revealing provisions that were not apparent previously, God can also cause some not to see when the reality is right before them.
2 Kings 6:18-20 – As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, please make them blind.” So the LORD struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked. Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria. As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O LORD, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the LORD opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.
Yeshua touched on this concept of “seeing and not seeing” in the preaching of the kingdom:
Luke 10:23-24 Then Jesus turned to the disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
Mark 4:11-12 “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside everything is expressed in parables, so that, ‘ they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.’”
Of course, this is a quote from a famous passage in Isaiah, demonstrating how God would be very intentional with reaching out to Israel, and yet they would reject him, being blind and deaf to his pleadings:
Isaiah 6:8-10 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?” And I said: “Here am I. Send me!” And He replied: “Go and tell this people, ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the hearts of this people calloused; deafen their ears and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
So what can we take away from all of these stories of God’s provision, and seeing and not seeing? Well, according to the example of the Levites, we can see that God will provide for those who are wholly engaged in the service of the kingdom. We can also understand from the stories of Abraham, Hagar and Elisha that God’s provision becomes apparent when it is needed, in his timing.
What this implies is that God’s provision is already here, but many times we just can’t see it. Though we may be physically incapable, mentally incapable, or spiritually incapable of seeing clearly, we can be certain that God’s provision is always at hand for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
When we are trusting in God and his Messiah, we are placing ourselves in line with those believers in the past who have had real provision of needs shown and available to and around them. God’s bounty is abundantly more than we can ever ask for.
Learning to trust God in this way liberates us from micro-managing. Trusting God allows God to be God, and for Yeshua to reign as Lord in our lives, because then we can be freed to live for him. As we focus on the kingdom and the righteousness of God, God provides for our needs.
Well, once again, I hope I’ve been able to provide you some ideas and concepts to meditate on further. We need to keep in mind that If we are truly trusting in God, we can know that he will supply these basics of life through whatever means he chooses. They may not be in the brand or style that we would choose for ourselves, but knowing that they can and will be provided can free us up to focus on the more significant aspects of this life. When we truly trust God, we demonstrate that we are not subject to the typical anxieties of this life. We are then living out the values of his kingdom, knowing the King provides for his subjects.
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